Marriage is not a Game as Seen in Margaret Atwood's Habitation Essay

Marriage is not a Game as Seen in Margaret Atwood's Habitation Essay

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Margaret Atwood is a Canadian novelist and poet whose writing usually treats contemporary issues, such as feminism, sexual politics, and the intrusive nature of mass society. While she is best known for her works as a novelist, her poetry is also noteworthy. One of her notable poems, “Habitation,” discusses the seriousness of marriage. The speaker basically gives a message that the marriage is not a game or a play; rather, it is a serious, unstable condition that calls for a lot of effort and attention to maintain harmony. In “Habitation,” Atwood uses simple, basic images such as the forest, desert, unpainted stairs, and fire to give a realistic view of marriage. In addition, these images give the poem optimism about unstable conditions of the marriage that can be improved to a happy marriage as a result of effort and attention between couple.
First, images the speaker uses while he or she is talking are about the reality of marriage: the “forest,” (4) “desert,” (5) “unpainted stairs,” (6) “glacier,” (9) and “fire.” (13) These images imply harsh conditions of marriage and interestingly have a connection to the title of the poem, “Habitation,” because the imagery shows a reality of marriage as “Habitation” describes the form of the realistic marriage. In other words, images are the tool and the title of the poem is the form to describe the reality of marriage. When Atwood introduces simple images, she uses the word “edge of” before each image: “the edge of the forest,” (4) “the edge of the desert,” (5) “the edge of the receding glacier.” (9) Usually, the “edge” of somewhere is not a good place to stay and sounds dangerous, so all these “edge” images represent the volatility between newlyweds at the beginning of marriage. On the ...


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...istic fantasy of the marriage, but the reality does not always follow the dream. Therefore, the newlyweds adjust their view on marriage according to the reality, and this adjustment represents the “fire” in the last line of poem. These two approaches to interpret “fire” show the optimistic outcome of marriage while the image also describes the reality of marriage.
In “Habitation”, Atwood uses simple images such as the “forest,” “desert,” “unpainted stairs,” and “fire” to refer to the reality of marriage, but yet, she delivers an optimistic message about the unstable relationship or problems between the newlyweds by showing hopeful interpretations. Therefore, the poem implies the marriage is like building a house because it starts with very simple things, but as times goes by, couple can learn how to deal with all problems and maintains a happy marriage.

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